Ashley River Fire Update

Fire and Emergency NZ (FENZ) are currently fighting two fires along the Ashley Rakahuri River, in addition to several other fires in the Canterbury region. Updates from them are mirrored below, please check their Facebook page for news and the latest official updates.

Key Messages:

  • Please avoid the area - allow the fire crews to do their job safely.
  • If you are in the path of the smoke, keep doors and windows closed.

Update from FENZ - 10am, Wednesday 5 February

While much needed rain fell last night and this morning bringing a small reprieve, there is still work to be done to extinguish the two fires near the Ashley/Rakahuri River in North Canterbury.

The Dunlops Road fire continues to burn along the riverbank in the vicinity of Dunlops Road, Loburn, while the Daiken Fire is burning along the riverbank to the east of the Ashley-Loburn Bridge.

Both fires remain contained and perimeters established, however they are not considered to be under control and despite the rain, the situation remains high-risk.

Full firefighting operations resumed this morning and with cool damp conditions, the focus is on up-lifting the deep-seated burn areas and improving containment lines.

Between 8-10mm of rain has fallen on the fire ground and this, along with reduced temperatures, assisted overnight crews with no major flare-ups reported. The fire is still within its containment lines and no properties are currently at risk.

Deputy Principal Rural Fire Officer for North Canterbury, Dale Wilhelm says that while the rain is welcomed, the danger isn’t over yet.

“Within a couple of days, we’ll be back to where we were, so it’s really important that we have resources on site for at least the next few days actively suppressing these fires. As previously warned, the fire is still active, and we ask the public to stay well away from the area”.

Dale thanks the community for their support during the fires, and says their messages and tokens of appreciation have been very well received by all involved.

North Canterbury remains in a Prohibited Fire Season and people should avoid any activities that have the potential to cause sparks.

If people have any concerns, they should immediately dial 111.

Update #6 from FENZ - 6PM

Both fires are contained and currently not growing, however they are not considered to be under control and the situation remains high-risk.

Weather remains to be a complicating factor, with high temperatures, strong winds and the risk of falling trees making the situation difficult for fire fighters throughout the afternoon. The fire risk in the North Canterbury area is Extreme and conditions are not expected to improve until Tuesday afternoon.

Night crews will be in place for both fires. Full fire fighting operations will resume in the morning.

One minor injury has been reported from the fire ground, with a fire fighter transported to Christchurch Hospital.

The fires are still active and the entire area is dangerous for the public to be in or around, so please stay away from both of the fire areas. We have had to spend time today asking members of the public to leave the area, which takes valuable resources away from what they should be doing.

Update #5 Dunlops Road Fire (previously Ashley Riverbank fire) - 12:30pm

Currently we still have active fire fighting operations underway on this fire. The crews have 60% of the fire contained but there is still a lot of work to do.

Weather conditions remain a concern with high temperatures, gusty Nor'West winds and low humidity.

The fire has burnt through approximately 50 hectares.

Please avoid the area so that our crews can work safely.

Update #4 from FENZ - 8.15am

Fire Ashley Rakahuri River (east side of the Ashley bridge)

At 0545 this morning FENZ were alerted to another fire on the Ashley Rakahuri riverbank on the eastern side of the Ashley Bridge.

Multiple crews are in attendance including two helicopters. The fire has not yet been fully contained and has travelled into a small plantation. This will cause visible flames and smoke as well as ember travel.

There are no structures threatened this is stage.

PLEASE AVOID THE AREA FENZ have had to ask Police to attend to keep people away from the area and keep them safe. The Nor'west winds can be very unpredictable and ember transfers can create new spot fires some 100-200m away. Please stay away from the area so all crews including the pilots can work safely.

Update #3 from FENZ - 8.00am

The fire picked up over night and crews had to pull back from the area due to dangerous conditions. The fire then threatened a property on Toomebridge Road which crews relocated to and completed structure protection. Full firefighting activities will commence this morning.

Please avoid the area!

You may be able to smell the smoke from some distance away. Please refrain from calling our 111 communications centre unless you can actually see some flames. It means our crews can concentrate on fighting the fires.

We will give you another update on this fire soon.

Update #2 from FENZ -  9.50pm

Fire is still not contained (75% perimeter contained) and it is still uncontrolled.

The fire will be very visible throughout the night.

We have night crews in place and full fire fighting activities will commence again in the morning.

There are no structures or properties at risk from the fire currently.

If you live in the path of the smoke drift, keep your windows and doors shut.

We will update you again in the morning.

Update #1 from FENZ- 6.20pm

Fire and Emergency NZ were informed of a fire on the Ashley Riverbank in the vicinity of Dunlops road, Loburn. Multiple 111 calls were made and crews responded to the fire at 15.23pm.

There are currently 9 fire fighting appliances and 2 helicopters at the scene.

The fire is not threatening any structures and is currently burning through 1 hectare of river scrub. The fire is being fanned by strong warm winds, at this stage the fire has not been controlled or contained and crews are working hard to put containment lines in place and extinguish the fire. There are adequate resources in attendance to achieve this.

We ask that the public stay away from the river on either side and allow our crews and the helicopter pilots to work safely. Anyone who lives in the area of the smoke drift should close windows and doors.

Across Canterbury there have been a number of vegetation fires today with strong warm winds and soaring temperatures making jobs tougher for crews.

For updates follow FENZ on their Facebook page.